Let’s Get Ready for the New Season

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My dad and I at the game last year- April 3, 2016

After a 6 month long hiatus it is time for the Lakers to suit up for a new season! I am very excited to start watching them play again. Before I preview the new season, I must look back at our last game:

Kobe’s Last Game

At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog about it. I sat on the couch with tears streaming down my face as I watched Kobe put up 60 points for the last time. I went through all the stages of grief watching that game.

He single handedly won that match. He played 1 on 5, just like he did back in the mid 2000’s. It was pure domination, so I went through the denial phase. I began to think that maybe he didn’t need to retire, and that he still had it in him. Then I would see him panting on the bench. He was putting on a show, but he could barely breathe. It was time for him to walk away. Now I was angry, because I looked around at the players surrounding him and could not imagine any of them carrying this team the way he has. He has played this game almost my entire life. I cannot remember a time when Kobe didn’t suit up in the purple and gold. How could anyone else be the face of my team? Then I started think about the Lakers’ history. Before Kobe there was Magic, and before Magic there was Jerry, so surely there is someone out there that the Lakers will scoop up and turn into a superstar right? Then depression kicked in when I started to think about who was running this team. Jerry Buss wasn’t going to work with Jerry West to draft Magic, and then convince him into staying with LA instead of bolting for Detroit. Instead, all we have is the incompetent son, and a GM who’s best trade to date was Jerry West’ doing. I sat there, watching the game, and thinking about all of this before I finally came to acceptance. I realize that it might take years, before the Lakers are playing at a championship level, but we will eventually get there. The team wasn’t always owned by Jerry Buss, and we had great trades made by GM’s other than Jerry West. Eventually, the Buss kids will figure out how to run this team, or (more likely) will hand over the reins to someone who can.

It is still hard for me to think about Kobe being retired. When Shaq was traded, and they broke up the original championship team, I was very angry. However, they eventually brought in Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom which lead to a new era. Kobe has always been the constant, but I know it is time to look toward the new talent to carry the torch.

Looking Ahead

Yesterday we had some big news. Yi Jianlian asked to be released from the Lakers, and they obliged. I was disappointed that we signed him in the first place. If you do not know who I am talking about, he was the star on the Chinese team during the Olympics this summer. I didn’t want him on the Lakers because I think he lacks the work ethic. Apparently Yao Ming really wanted him to be his mentee, but Jianlian was unwilling to put in the work. I can happily say good riddance. Now let’s take a look at the rest of the players on this finalized roster.

D’Angelo Russell may have butted heads with Byron Scott, but he appears to love Luke Walton. Thus far, the players are responding to him well, so that is a good thing. Russell did seem to improve over the summer, but he still has a lot of work to do. The same goes for Julius Randall and Brandon Ingram. We have a very young team, so there are going to be growing pains. I know fans are really excited that the Lakers did well in the pre-season, but please remember that those games are not indicative of how a team will play in the regular season. Most teams only play their stars for a few minutes. Those games are for the rookies and new acquisitions.

Remember back in 2012 when the Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason? That was the summer when we got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Fans couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t think much of it. People look back on that season and say it was terrible, and by Lakers standards it was. However, we made the playoffs in a competitive western conference. Granted, with that talent we should have done better, but Steve Nash went down in the beginning of the season, Kobe tore his Achilles, and then Dwight Howard was forced to lead the team while still coming back from a major back injury. All things considered, I think we did pretty damn good.

So, where does that leave us? Pretty much where we have been the last couple of seasons. I anticipate our young players improving substantially, but I still see us as a below .500 team, barring a major trade. Luke Walton is now our coach and leader, but this is going to take years, so let’s buckle in and play the long game. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our young, versatile, and athletic youngsters playing some Warrior style ball (with a ton of turnovers).

Changing of the Guard

resizeBefore the Lakers lost to the Pacers, the inevitable announcement finally came: Kobe declared his retirement at the end of this season. I am going to use this blog post to personally thank Kobe for making me the Lakers fan I am today. Kobe has been a Laker for 20 years, so I do not remember a time when he didn’t don the purple and gold. During his reign, many greats have come and gone from the Lakers (Shaq, Pau, Malone, etc.), but he has remained. He is always in the conversation for not only “Greatest Laker of All Time” but also “Greatest Player of All Time.” I can sit here and spew all the stats of why he is so incredible, but those deserve their own blog post.

This blog post is about love and appreciation. Kevin Durant said it best when he called out the media for treating, “One of our legends like shit.” I have been so angry listening to people complain about how Kobe is playing. This man has thrown everything into basketball. He has played through countless injuries and came back from one of the worst injuries imaginable. Many people forget that when he tore his Achilles he actually went to the free throw line to make those two shots. They were necessary to make the playoffs and he did it on one leg. Can you imagine any other player in history who could have the composure to make those shots? I remember watching those free throws and crying. I thought that was the last time I would see Kobe play, but that just shows how naïve I was being.

Charles Barkley loves to say: “Father Time is undefeated,” so now it is time for Kobe to join the ranks of players who eventually succumbed to the losing battle. Can’t we take a moment to praise him for fighting for so long? Instead of criticizing him for playing for 20 years, let’s simply say “thank you” for giving it your all. People love to complain that he is a shell of his former self and not worth watching anymore, but when he finally hangs up that uniform and walks away, we will all miss him.

Michael Jordan came back and had an uneventful run with the Wizards, but we don’t remember that. Instead, we speak fondly about how he was the GOAT. We talk about how he played with the flu, took on the “Bad Boys” of Detroit, and created a dynasty. That is the legend we remember.

This season has been incredibly difficult to watch. The Lakers are a terrible team, and Kobe isn’t the same dominant force he was a few years ago. I will admit that this blogger has not watched many games this year. However, I am making a new vow to rededicate myself to watching because after April, I will no longer get to see #24.

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Mamba Busters

LakersKobe has been taking heat his entire career, but recently, critics have stepped it up a notch. Now they are claiming that the Lakers would be better off without him. We would certainly be better off without the massive contract, but not without the man.

That theory has floated around a bit for years, but it really came to head when the Lakers crushed the Golden State Warriors last week without Kobe. Kobe took the night off to rest due to all the ailments that come with old age.

After the impressive win, the reporters started asking whether the Lakers would be better without him. After all, they did play an amazing game without him. However, this game was a fluke. Sorry to burst your bubble Lakers fans. It is very common for teams to rally together and play a great game after their leader goes down.

My theory proved to be true when the Lakers suffered yet another Christmas Day Massacre. This one hurt even more since it was dished out by former Laker Pau Gasol.

Kobe did return last night, but unfortunately we still lost. You may say that this fact busts my theory. You may say that once Kobe returned everything went bag again but in reality it just shows the simple fact: the Lakers are a terrible team. Regardless of whether or not Kobe plays, we are going to lose and we are going to lose a lot. Sorry for the pessimistic note. However, with Kobe we at least have a fighting chance. The Lakers are 8-20 with Kobe, but without him we would have lost even more games. Remember, we went 1-2 without him in the lineup. We need players who can get their own shot, and right now he and Nick Young are the only ones doing that.

Instead of discussing whether or not the Lakers are better with or without Kobe, we should be discussing the inconsistency of Boozer and Lin. Right now the Lakers only have 2 consistent scoring threats. However, when Lin and Boozer play well, then they open up the entire floor. I am singling them out since we know they are capable. It is not unreasonable for me to expect at least 15 points per game from each of them. They have done it in the past, and they managed to step it up in Kobe’s absence, so now they need to do it on a consistent basis and stop relying so much on the Mamba. Otherwise they can say adios to LALA land.

The only way in which the Lakers benefit from Kobe’s absence is that it does force other players (like Lin and Boozer) not to rely on him. We constantly see them “Kobe watch”: that is when they just pass him the ball and stand around to see what he does. I do not blame Kobe for that, I blame the players. They need to stop being so dependent on him. He is 36 years old and has suffered multiple injuries; give the poor guy a break!

We are going through tough times in Lakerville, and I know that we all want to blame it on a scape goat (that’s what my favorite Buss siblings are here for right?), but we have to remember to appreciate Kobe. He is a legend, and we are so lucky to be able to witness his greatness. Years from now the next generation will ask us about watching him play, just like how I ask my dad about the Magic and Jerry West days.

Kobe is a hop skip and a jump away from retirement, so instead of wondering whether or not the Lakers play better without him, we need to cherish every single minute he is on the floor, because it won’t be long before his jersey is hanging in Staples with the rest of our legends.

Why Lakers Fans Need to be Prepared for Another Tough Season

lakers-ship-sinking1A lot has happened since my last blog post: we acquired Carlos Boozer via amnesty (see I told you so Bulls!), we also officially signed multiple players, but most importantly, we finally hired Byron Scott.

After D’Antoni mercifully resigned (for roughly $2 million), I wrote a post discussing all of our coaching options and threw my support behind Scott. He is a good coach who bleeds purple and gold, and he was Jerry’s pick, not Jim’s. I only mention this fact because Jerry had a fantastic record when it comes to picking coaches, and we all know how Jimmy’s choices worked out.

Now that our roster is mostly full, it is time to analyze our team. For the purposes of this blog post I am only going to analyze the changes. We lost Pau Gasol but gained Julius Randle, Ed Davis, and Carlos Boozer. Additionally, we lost Kendall Marshall but gained Jeremy Lin.

Starting at the power forward position, I believe we may be slightly weaker. I love Pau and was devastated to see him go. Carlos Boozer is a solid power forward, but he has injury problems and he is not the same man who dominated in Utah. I am pretty unfamiliar with Davis, but based upon my research, he has the potential but has never seemed to break out, so hopefully he can have a Swaggy P type year. Lastly, I have always admitted that I am unfamiliar with the NCAA, therefore I only know what has been reported about Randle. I am always hesitant to trust a rookie since we have seen so many high draft picks flounder in the NBA. I believe that Randle will be a good power forward, however, I am not going to put all my eggs in that basket, not yet at least. The reason I am concerned about our power forwards, is that none of these players have Pau’s shooting or passing abilities. Also, Pau can play the 4 or the 5, whereas these players are going to be at the 4 or 3 position. Defensively, I am concerned about our size. We saw how Miami struggled against teams with true centers, and we need to be a better defensive team then last year.

Next, I want to criticize the Lakers for waiving Kendall Marshall. I liked Kendall despite some of his deficiencies. Also, he was making less than $1 million this year, so I cannot comprehend why we decided to waive him for financial reasons instead of the injured 40-year-old point guard making $7 million. I am sorry but those numbers do not add up. Steve Nash will not play more than 30 games this year, and that number is extremely optimistic. I personally do not believe he will play that many. I would expect maybe 20 games at the most out of him, and he will be playing limited minutes. I do not understand why we did not waive Nash. We have no loyalty to him. He got injured almost immediately after we acquired him, and he has struggled to stay healthy since. I understand that we should respect him since he is a future Hall of Famer, but he had all of his accomplishments in Phoenix; we do not owe him anything. He has even admitted the only reason he isn’t retiring is because of the money. Therefore, we should have just paid him (via amnesty), and had the cap space to sign some other players.

I already discussed Jeremy Lin in my last post, so I am going to be brief. We did get an upgrade at the point guard position. I also said that we were only renting him for the year so we should not get too attached. However, Mitch came out at the press conference and admitted that this was the third time that he had gone after Lin. Apparently he wanted him since he played at Harvard. Therefore, we may actually try to resign him next summer.

In this post’s title I told fans to be prepared for another bad year. Basically it looks like our roster is slightly improved. However there is one big factor I have yet to mention, and I like to call it the “Mamba Factor.” Kobe only played a few games last year, hence our team only winning 27 games. Now, I want to believe more than anyone that Kobe will be back at full force next year. Unfortunately, if watching Steve Nash fall apart has taught me anything, it is that once a player suffers a serious injury, they may never be the same again. Kobe has now taken to huge breaks to rest up and heal. Both he and the Lakers organization say he will be ready next year, but it is important to not get too excited. We need to manage our expectations in case this blows up again.

If Kobe comes back and is still a great player, then the Lakers have a shot to be a decent team. However, that can only happen if he is able to score around 20 points per game. I know that the idea of Kobe not being able to put up 30 whenever he wants is a scary thought for Lakers fans, but we need to face reality. He is entering his 18th season and has suffered some career ending injuries. If he is able to play more than half the games and put up over 15 points, then we need to count our blessings.

I have decided to be optimistic and say that Kobe will make it through a decent amount of games and put up solid numbers, and I am basing that on our new coach. I have always blamed the plethora of injuries on D’Antoni and his crazy offensive system, but Scott is smarter and will take Kobe’s health into consideration. Scott is a defensive minded coach, but he did play for Showtime and understands the importance of having a good system. Scott may not slow down the game to “triangle speeds” but he won’t make the Lakers run around like D’Antoni.

If the stars line up perfectly, and the Lakers are healthy, and all the players exceed expectations, then the Lakers have a shot of making it into the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round. However, I always feel that it is my job to tell my readers the truth and not fill you with false hope. As we currently stand, the Lakers will probably not make the playoffs this year unless the stars align for them and everything else goes to hell for the elite western conference teams.

Lastly, since this free agency cycle is coming to an end, I think it is good for the Lakers to learn from their mistakes so they can retool for next summer when the stakes are higher. First off, I think it was stupid that they let all these solid free agents get away because they played the waiting game with LeBron and Melo. They were never going to come to the Lakers, and that is fine that they wanted to give it a shot, but then you need to keep building as if they are not coming. If either one of those guys decided that they wanted to come play for the Lakers, then the Lakers would have figured out a way to move pieces around to sign them. You do not put everything on hold hoping for one of them to save the day. Remember my comment about putting all of your eggs in one basket?

Now I also think the Lakers need to work on damage control and get their publicist working over time. Whenever I watch ESPN or hear any of the analysts talking about the Lakers, they always say that it is no longer a premier destination. The more they say it, the more it becomes a reality. It does not matter that the Lakers were the most profitable team last year (by about $100 million) despite having one of the worst records. Ever since Jerry died people think that the culture died with him. Jim Buss needs to get his ego in check and start following in daddy’s footsteps. Jerry was famous for caring about his players without going overboard like Mark Cuban. He would invite the players over and constantly take them out to dinner.

Kobe came out a few months ago and criticized Jim Buss. It is not a secret that Jim has spent no time with his star player, and Kobe has not been happy about it. The reason why both Lakers fans and players like Jeannie more is because of Phil. Phil would take the players out and spend time with them, and of course he would bring his longtime girl friend with him. Jeannie has more of a voice in the organization because of Phil, not her father. Recently Kobe has been speaking very favorably about the wonder siblings because he realizes that the Lakers will keep missing out on free agents if they think the owners are a problem. If we have learned anything from the Sterling scandal, it is that the owners do matter to the players, even if it is not their first priority.

Per usual, I do not like to criticize the Lakers without offering up some suggestions. Jim Buss needs to get his face out there more, and it needs to be in a favorable light. He needs to take Kobe and maybe the entire team out to dinner at one of the paparazzi favorite restaurants (Mr. Chows?) and then make sure the story ends up in the media. If he starts giving off the impression that he cares about his players, then people will start to believe it. The more he acts like his beloved father, the more people will start to see him that way.

My business professors at Tulane always stressed to me the importance of relationships; I even took a Relationship Marketing Class. Jim needs to develop relationships with his players, staff, and the media. Until we retool the image problem around the Lakers, we will not be able to get back to an elite competitive status.

 

East Coast v. West Coast: The Battle Between the Lakers and the Knicks, and a Free Agency Update

Carmelo and Kobe Staying PutThere has always been a rivalry between LA and NY, and I’m not just talking about Tupac and Biggie. People have always taken sides in the battle of the two cities. This spring the battlefield was on an ice rink, as the LA Kings took down the NY Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals (Ranger fans can suck it! Sorry I am still in cutthroat mode).

Personally, I’m torn. While I’m from LA and love living here, I definitely have the NY spirit since my family is from the Big Apple. As torn as I am between my love for the two cities, I am not at all torn in my allegiance to LA sports teams or my feelings about Phil Jackson going to the Knicks. I was furious the Lakers dropped the ball and allowed him to go to the Knicks, taking our basketball culture with him.

So far Phil signed Lamar Odom (of course he also waived him today), made Derrick Fisher head coach, and stole Kurt Rambis to make him an assistant coach. He tried to lure Pau Gasol back to his side and is planning to establish the triangle in NY.

When he signed with the Knicks a few months ago, this was my biggest fear. Now we are literally fighting with the Knicks over free agents, and so far Phil’s Knicks have been victorious in every battle. His latest “win,” the “coveted” Carmelo Anthony.

I have already expressed my opinions about Melo; he is both overrated and overpaid. Basically, that was one battle I hoped we would lose. I’m glad they’re stuck overpaying him (Phil Jackson knows it and tried selling Melo on a smaller contract last month, but failed); better them than us. Meanwhile, we re-signed Jordan Hill and Nick Young, two moves which make me very happy.

That brings me to Jeremy Lin. People seem to be happy that Linsanity is coming to LA, but hold your horses everyone; we are simply renting him for a year. He is massively overpaid and his contract expires in 2015. He is a solid player and will be entertaining to watch, but letting him go after one year will give the Lakers space to go after the plethora of available free agents in 2015 (management must be listening to me).

Unfortunately, I need to talk about Pau Gasol since his departure is imminent. He just tweeted that he has chosen to play for the Bulls (sorry Teri), and it is happening without a sign and trade deal. Back in February I said we needed to trade him in order to get something rather than just lose him in free agency. We didn’t, and now he is leaving. It’s unfortunate that the Lakers and Bulls couldn’t work out a sign and trade deal with Pau for Boozer and a draft pick. Chicago could have dumped Boozer’s contract and I honestly would have had no problem with us taking Carlos Boozer for one year plus a draft pick. Like Jeremy Lin he is overpaid, but his contract also expires after this season. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen so the Bulls are stuck with Boozer, and the Lakers lose Pau and get nothing in return.

On that happy note, I would like to point out that the Lakers are now 0-2 for keeping our players in free agency under “new” management. First Dwight walked away, and now Pau is leaving. This morning my mother asked me who is really running the Lakers now. Is it Mitch, Jeannie, or Kobe? She was not convinced that Jim was in charge. I told her he is, in fact, running things (which is why we are in our current state), and Jeannie’s recent public involvement is purely meant to appease the fans, players, and analysts. My mother sighed, rolled her eyes, and walked away. I feel that sums up how all of us Lakers fans feel at the moment.

Before I end, since it is the biggest NBA story right now, I feel it is my duty to mention LeBron. I take great pride in being right about my basketball analysis; just see my “I Told You So” blog. However, I have to admit I was wrong about LeBron. My Miami based Grandma Barbara called Thursday night in a panic over the prospect of LeBron leaving the Heat. I assured her that was not going to happen. Sorry Grandma. Although I prepared her months in advance for the Heat’s defeat in the finals – I told her they’d cruise there and then get crushed (sound familiar?), I did not prepare her for LeBron’s departure. In fairness, I was unaware that LeBron had changed his priorities. When he went to the Heat, he said he expected to win more than 7 championships while he was there. In his recent SI article, however, LeBron made it clear his legacy and heart are in Cleveland and that is more important than winning, “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.”

Since this blog is all about us Lakers fans, here is the good news about LeBron’s return to the Cavs: comparisons between Kobe and LeBron now end. While I am intrigued to see how LeBron will play with his new young teammates, I highly doubt that they will win a championship. If they do win, it will not be for years. I do not think LeBron will be able to get free agents to come to Cleveland. He couldn’t do it the first time around, and I do not think the 2 rings he won under Pat Riley in Miami will change that. Kobe will, and should, be compared to Michael and Magic, not to LeBron; 5>2.

Ding Dong D’Antoni is Gone

1797503_10152467886367223_1578149390540710542_nI am not writing this post to celebrate the departure of Mike D’Antoni. The man had many faults, but I have always maintained that his biggest fault was being chosen over Phil Jackson.

Honestly, D’Antoni resigning was the best possible outcome for all parties involved. The Lakers did not want to have him next year, and they did not want to have to fire another coach. Additionally, both Kobe and Pau have maintained their lack of desire to play for him. Lastly, D’Antoni has felt the wrath of LA fans for the last 2 years. He has even been booed at games. Fans did not want him, and more importantly Kobe did not want him.

He had been facing rumors for months about his ultimate demise, so he finally took action. He decided to ask for the Lakers to pick up his option for the 2015-2016 season. I was initially surprised to hear that he made this move. The Lakers just faced their worst record since moving to LA, and D’Antoni wants the Lakers to guarantee him for an additional year? What is his bargaining tool?

I have already mentioned all the negatives of having D’Antoni, and I could not think of any possible reason why the Lakers would guarantee him for an additional year. The stars appeared to be lined up for the Lakers to get rid of him next year, and use the empty coaching position as a negotiating tool with free agents.

D’Antoni said that he did not want to be a lame duck coach. He claimed it was too distracting. This argument is silly. Tons of coaches and players are in this position and they work through it. Instead, I think D’Antoni was looking for an excuse to resign. He must have been miserable in LA, and I think he went into negotiations knowing that he would be turned down, so that he could use that as his excuse to walk away. I will reiterate, this was the best possible outcome. Now he can pursue the Golden State Warriors, since that position just became open.

The Lakers can now focus on the future. The rumor mill has been swirling with possible candidates (this is how we knock the Clippers off the front page). Time for me to break down the possible candidates for the Lakers next head coach:

Byron Scott

I am a huge fan of this possibility. He is young, a former Laker, has won “Coach of the Year,” and can help lure Kyrie Irving. Byron has a good mix of experience and youth that I think would be very beneficial to this rebuilding process. Additionally, he is a former Laker and understands the pressure that comes with this position. He should pass the Kobe Bryant test, and would be great in recruiting the former “Rookie of the Year” since he coached him in Cleveland. I think there is a very good chance that he will be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Derek Fisher

He is the dark horse in the race to claim Phil Jackson’s throne. He is a very interesting choice. We know that he and Kobe were teammates and remain close friends. It is no secret that Derek Fisher is one of the only people that Kobe allows to be completely honest with him. They were co-captains for the Lakers, and Derek took on the leadership role. Kobe is only good at inspiring fear, so Derek would step up and encourage his teammates in times of adversity. They often crediting him with inspiring them with his speeches, and he has a bit of a reputation for relishing in crunch time. Since Derek played in LA for years, he is very aware of the pressure that comes with this position, and is beloved by Lakers fans. These qualities are admirable in a coach.

Despite all of Derek’s great qualities, there are some risks in making him the head coach. Currently, Derek is in his final playoffs with OKC. This means that Derek has zero coaching experience. The Nets made a similar move last year by making Jason Kidd their head coach. That move has worked out quite nicely since he just won his first game 7 and is currently taking on the Miami Heat in round two. While it did work out for the Nets, hiring a coach without any coaching experience is a risk. The Lakers are probably unwilling to take such a risk since their last two coaches did not work out.

Secondly, Derek’s relationship with Kobe might actually be a problem. However, Kobe could end up turning on Derek, or Derek could decide to let Kobe be Kobe in order to avoid hurting their relationship. As players and co-captains they were on equal footing, but if Fisher became the coach then he would have the ability to pull Kobe out of games and tell him to pass the damn ball. When Derek Fisher delivered some harsh truths to Kobe, Kobe could decide whether or not to listen, but as his coach Kobe would be forced to “obey.” I say “obey” because Kobe has always on some level ignored or overruled his coaches over the years. Needless to say, the Kobe/Derek dynamic could prove to be extremely beneficial or terribly detrimental.

Van Gundy Brothers

I am combining the Jeff and Stan because I think the likelihood of the Lakers signing either brother is slim. They are both admirable coaches and are well respected, but I do not see them fitting in with the Lakers or the LA fans. I think their personality will be a turn off for the fans, and I think Kobe will be too much for either of them to handle. Stan could not handle Dwight, does he really want to take a crack at the Black Mamba? Additionally, the Lakers front office is looking to do two things with this coaching vacancy: make a splash, and attract free agents.

Signing either Van Gundy is not a sexy choice (on every single level), and they do not have the same lure to bring in free agents as some of the other choices. All in all, I do not think either one will end up as the next coach.

Tom Thibodeau

This name has gotten the most attention during the media circus. It is unfortunate that his name got leaked. Before we started considering him as the next coach, the Bulls were on their way to getting knocked out of the first round. Rumors were starting to swirl that the Bulls were going to fire him. Now the Bulls have taken a firm stance, and despite giving the Lakers permission to talk to Tom, they have reminded us that he is under contract. Unfortunately, now if we want to steal him from the Bulls, we will have to give up something massive. Rumor has it that the Bulls either want our first round pick or for us to take Boozer and his massive contract.

Let me clear, I have said in the past that I am strongly against us trading our draft pick for Kevin Love. If Kevin Love is not worth it, neither is Tom. However, I would be open to taking on Boozer. He does have a big contract, but it expires in 2015. We are going to have a mediocre year anyway, so we might as well spend some money on him and then let him walk away while we go after the big free agents.

I took a bit of a detour, so let me get back to discussing Tom as the Lakers future coach. He is Kobe’s first choice and I have a lot of respect for him. While D’Antoni was all about offense, Tom is all about defense. Remember that crushing Celtic defense that destroyed us in the 2008 finals? Tom was the architect.

I think he could be a great coach for the Lakers, if we do not have to give up too much to bring him here.

George Karl

I have already discussed my opinion of George Karl, so I will keep this short. While I think he has a lot of great qualities, I do not think he will be the next coach. I doubt he wants to deal with LA or the rebuilding process.

Kevin Ollie

I have always admitted that my NCAA knowledge is limited. However, I have done a little research on Ollie and I think he has a lot of potential. This LA native has achieved a lot, and has done so very quickly. He won the NCAA tournament only 2 years after being named UCONN’s head coach. He played 13 season in the NBA and retired only 4 years ago. He might be itching to come back. Kevin Durant has spoken highly of him and explained that Ollie was his mentor in Oklahoma. Ollie would be the best person to lure Durant away from OKC in 2016 if we still have the cap space for him.

Ollie just won a national championship, so it is hard to say how he feels about staying. He may want to stay to defend the title. Maybe he now has enough credibility so he wants to take the next step to the NBA? I think we are in a good position to steal him from Connecticut.

All these coaches pose a risk to the Lakers, and Ollie is no exception. Ollie has been very successful in coaching college students, but the NCAA coaching style does not always translate well to NBA coaching. I think Ollie will be a very successful NBA coach since he spent so much time as a player and has gained amazing experience at the college level. However, we won’t know unless he takes the job.

John Calipari

His name started swirling the day of his championship game. I failed to talk about it because I knew it was a bogus rumor. I am convinced that someone started that rumor just to mess with Kentucky players’ heads. He has already come out twice and said he is not interested in the job. I know some people think he is playing hard ball for future negotiations, but I truly believe he is not interested. Again, my knowledge of him is limited, but based on all the reporting, it sounds like the Lakers situation is not a good fit for him.

Jerry Sloan

Like Karl, I already gave my Sloan assessment. I have a great deal of respect for Sloan, but I think his personality will not mesh well with the Lakers or the city.

Roy Williams

He is not pictured because he is a new coach to hit the rumor mill. Apparently we have targeted him before, but to no avail. He seems pretty dead set on staying in the NCAA, so I am not expecting to see him in next season.

Mark Jackson

I know I have already gone through all the men in the photograph, but while writing this post Mark Jackson was fired from Golden State (not surprising but still horribly disappointing). The Lakers should definitely take a look at him. He is a great coach who should not have been fired. He improved Golden State each year that he coached, and the Lakers are in some dire need of improvement. His style might be a bit fast paced, but he is still worth considering. The former Clipper knows all about the LA lifestyle and I think he could be a great addition.

 

I know this has been a long post, and I appreciate you all for staying with me. A lot will change in the coming months. Since the Lakers are not expecting to sign a coach before the draft, you can be sure this list will be changing. I know that Jim Buss has made bad coaching decisions in the past, but I will remain hopeful, since I am thus far thoroughly impressed with the current list. I told my fans, things will get better, and now we are on our way.

How Stern Exacerbated the Sterling Saga

chris-paul-sternHey LakHer fans! Hope you didn’t miss me too much!  I am back after letting “legal expert” Adam Waks take over for a few days. The Sterling debacle has lead to a lot of discussion and debate. It has stirred up a lot of emotions for everyone who has been touched by this story.

Adam covered some of the legal issues surrounding this saga in the last few days, but now I want to look back a bit further. People have been criticizing the NBA for failing to take action against Donald Sterling sooner. There have been accusations for years: between the DOJ settlement and the Elgin Baylor termination lawsuit. People want to know why the NBA didn’t take action in those cases. Well, without going too deep into the legal issues (since I like to leave those to Adam), I can say that they probably did not have a choice.

The DOJ case was settled, and that does not necessarily mean Sterling was guilty. Of course, we now can all believe that Sterling was guilty, but people settle for various reasons. He may have thought it was cheaper to settle than fight, certain pieces of evidence brought up at trial could have tarnished his reputation, or he simply did not want to deal with the negative publicity. During his press conference, Silver explained that every allegation was investigated; unfortunately, once the case was settled, their investigation probably ended as well.

The same goes for Elgin Baylor. I will always have faith in my Laker, but he lost his case in court. Sterling was given due process, so the NBA was cornered. The NBA cannot punish Sterling on Baylor’s word alone, especially once the courts ruled in Sterling’s favor. My fans may be unhappy with this view, but since I come from a family of lawyers (sorry Grandma Barbara), I must respect the process.

Of course, there have been other allegations over the years. Baron Davis accused Sterling of heckling him during practice. I have no idea if those allegations were investigated. However, it is public knowledge that NBA have tried to convince Sterling to sell in the past, therefore it would make sense that they would try to get as much ammunition as possible to entice him to sell.

Now, here is where there is a wrinkle in the story. In December 2011, David Stern forever tainted his reputation as commissioner by vetoing the Chis Paul trade to the Lakers. Stern let owners like Dan Gilbert bully him into overturning a trade. There was no legitimate reason for this veto; the owners were simply tired of the Lakers getting superstars.

There is a reason why the Lakers attract superstars. We had a wonderful owner in Dr. Buss, we are located in beautiful Los Angeles, and we are one of the most successful franchises in history.

Owners can bemoan all they want, but we are a great organization. However, that year David Stern had the power to veto a trade made by the Hornets. It is ironic that I am complaining about how Stern took over a team from an owner, but I am rejoicing in Silver doing the exact same thing to Sterling. Believe me, I see it.

However, this move was catastrophic for everyone. First off, we ended up with two unhappy all stars, and eventually had to trade Lamar Odom for draft picks. Those draft picks eventually led to the acquisition of Steve Nash (see this whole veto is still biting us in the ass).

Next, and more importantly, Stern gave CP3 to Sterling on a silver platter. For 30 years the Clippers had been a punch line, but now they are contenders.

The acquisition of Chris Paul substantially increased the value of the Clippers. Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million back in 1981. However, the Milwaukee Bucks were recently sold for a cool $550 million. The Bucks are a small market, unsuccessful team. This means that we can expect Sterling to make a huge profit by selling the team. Big offers will come in from the ever expanding list of interested celebrities. He will make a much more substantial profit now, then he would have if that trade had never been vetoed.